MM 2001: Work and Community - People

December 21, 2000

Courting controversy on the subject of women and work

Catherine Hakim , senior research fellow in the sociology department of London School of Economics and author of Work Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press), has written about women and employment for ten years.

Her Economic and Social Research Council project, Work Changes and Orientation in Family Life, looks at why women work.

She predicts her findings will not please feminists or the European Commission.

"Women are half the labour force and they want good pay. But they also regard other things as important," she says.

"They have distinct orientations, such as choosing a job that is interesting or close to home. The majority of married women see themselves as secondary earners.

"Yet feminists believe all women want full-time jobs and have the same career aspirations as men. Sex discrimination was preventing women from entering the labour market, but it was not the only thing.

"Most women do not work part time because it is forced upon them, (and) those with full-time jobs often do them because there are no part-time jobs," insists Hakim.

She expects many people will not agree with her findings "because the fashion is to say all women want full-time careers and anything else is sexist".


Safeguarding against the dangers of new technology

"New technology is amazing because it is empowering individuals who are less fortunate," says Simon Rogerson . "But, with something so powerful, there are dangers and you need safeguards."

Rogerson holds the first UK chair in computer ethics, based at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University.

He has taught at De Montfort for 15 years and was a systems analyst for 12 years.

He has maintained links with the computer industry and has always been interested in the management of computing systems in large organisations, recognising early on that there were broad ethical and social issues for the community, including how to get technology to benefit more people, not just industry, and issues of privacy in and out of work.

"Monitoring emails in the workplace is an area of great tension. There may be legitimate reasons, yet people view email as posting a letter to a mate and do not recognise that multiple copies are made.

"We want to make managers focus on more than the technological and economic issues. It is impossible to reverse the technology, the important thing is to ask questions before you have a problem," he says.

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